The term “transformation” generally refers to the transition from one system to another. In contrast “urban transformation” is an approach that aims to identify development opportunities for cities and municipalities toward greater sustainability.
The question “How can sustainability aspects be taken more into account in their development?” is set in the context of numerous changes to which they are exposed: demographic change, growth and shrinkage, economic ups and downs, digitalization, climate change, etc. In order to achieve greater sustainability in environmental, economic and social terms, urban development objectives must therefore be completely redefined. New approaches must be developed. For example, it is now quite common for local ideas, actors and solution approaches to be more closely involved in processes – not only in discussions, but also in concept and measure development and implementation.
In practice, small and medium-sized cities and municipalities have long been pioneers of sustainable development. From experience, it is clear that a more “proactive focus” on creating innovation and change processes is essential for urban transformation. Creating change is so difficult because it is necessary to understand which structures have which (positive or negative) impacts and where the appropriate entry points for meaningful and feasible change are. For example, not all sustainability issues can be solved at the neighborhood level, just as any sustainability strategy actors need to implement it. However, in order to find out which goals and measures are feasible and meaningful, space and time are required to test them out.
Living labs are a concrete approach to enable this experimentation.